Parallel Lines: A Journey from Childhood to Belsen
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After a winter in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where his father died, Peter Lantos and his mother were liberated by the Americans and handed over to the Red Army. They escaped from the Russians and traveled, hiding on a goods train, through Prague to Budapest. This is not a Holocaust story, but a child's recollection of a journey full of surprise, excitement, bereavement, and terror. After having established a career in the West, the author decided to revisit the stages on his earlier journeys, reliving the past through the perspective of the present. Along the way, old ghosts are finally laid to rest by the kindness of new friends.
Zionist Aid and Rescue Committee the transport of 30,000 Jews to Austria. According to the original agreement, this stay of execution would benefit 15,000 Jews from Budapest, while the rest of the quota would be made up from the provinces. When the figures were broken down for each provincial centre, the leaders of the Szeged ghetto were asked to select their share of 3,000 Jews. A committee of five had the unenviable task of drawing up this list, but once it had been completed the order was
to the hospital in Camp 2. Captain Winterbottom, the physician in charge of the stores, performed miracles: he equipped 7,000 beds in one week, requisitioned and distributed clothing and footwear for the inmates from a temporary depot jokingly called ‘Harrods’, organized a team of plumbers and carpenters for the hospital buildings, and even initiated a nightclub, the Coconut Grove, to assist in the rehabilitation of the patients. The British effort was enormous in scope: an estimated 3,000 troops
politeness, reassured me as to my impeccable choice of hotel. I checked in at the Beverly Hilton, on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills: a hotel that fortunately has escaped the minimalist rub-down and has remained stubbornly redolent of faded (and not so faded) glamour. The early February sunshine pushed temperatures into the mid-twenties Celsius, and from the landscape window of my room I could see distant hills in the blue haze and opulent homes with the obligatory swimming pools. Reality
the large living-room: an almost empty space containing only a table, a sofa and two ill-matched armchairs. Although we were exhausted, my mother did not sit down. Standing in the middle of the room, she could not restrain her eagerness to ask about my brother. ‘Gyuri?’ Silence. Aunt Márta looked at my uncle, as if asking for help; then she walked towards my mother with open arms to embrace her, but my mother, as if anticipating bad news, stepped back. ‘He died last month. On 6 August,’ said my
behind, even for a short time, all the limitations that enclosed our lives. Two years later, sponsored by a cousin living in New York, I saved enough money for another trip. I did not experience any problems in acquiring another permit to leave, and thus it was that in September 1965, after a stormy Channel crossing, I arrived at Victoria Station on the Golden Arrow. My luck ran out the third time, however. Soon after I received notification of the research fellowship from the Wellcome Trust, I